BOLTON Cricket League clubs have been instructed to be ready to play on July 18.

League officials are set to meet this week to ratify their plans for an abridged season after the Government gave the all-clear for recreational cricket to resume under Covid-19 restrictions.

That can happen from this Saturday but the BCL are looking at kicking things off seven days later.

The only hurdle remaining is for the Government to sign off on the England and Wales Cricket Board’s proposals for the return of the club game.

Once that has been finalised and with two fixture lists under consideration by the BCL, formal news on how the season will look is expected this week.

The league’s executive chairman John Hutchinson said in a statement: “Following the announcement by central Government, the BCL executive is awaiting formal guidance from ECB regarding the commencement of the 2020 season.

“The executive shall be meeting this week to ratify the official fixture list for 2020 for both senior cricket and junior cricket.

“At this stage, we are looking forward to a commencement date no later than July 18 and would ask that all clubs have their facilities fully ready for league cricket by that date.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s handling of the return of recreational cricket has come in for plenty of criticism.

Having described a cricket ball as a “a natural vector of disease” and then cited issues around communal teas and dressing rooms the PM was forced into an about-turn.

The ECB repeatedly insisted the game was safe to play with the governing body’s pleas appearing to fall on deaf ears before Friday’s decision.

Mr Johnson admitted at a press briefing: “I have sought scientific advice and medical opinion and the third umpire has been invoked.

“We do want to work as fast as possible to get cricket back and will be publishing guidelines in the next few days.”

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison welcomed the news and said: “We know how difficult it has been for everyone to go without cricket this summer, and we thank you for your patience.”